Combo at the Best Bar | Lauren Camp

Sitting proud on the bank
of the bar, a horseman chews
from a snifter of gin with coffee beans.
I’ve been here three times;
tonight the music scratches,
snaps back to twangs flicked
with conviction. Brimmed hat
tells me his story — laconic, contented
— over the skittering drumbeat.
Rolled-back chords review
each move, flat to peak.
We’re not sitting close to each other,
but I hear his accomplishments.
I tell him my name but he says
he’ll forget, and remember
instead my dark, tired eyes.
After some minutes, he
and his middle-aged daughter
twirl round the back of the room;
he raises his starched sleeve
so she can streak under.
The turns are skin over
shoulder, the air resilient
around them. Their bodies draw
together and ramble apart.
Guitar strains swallow the couches
and benches, wheedling seconds.
When the set ends, I get up to leave.
The storm came by earlier, wore out
the sky. When I walk the five blocks
back to the cottage, this small town
will fall open-necked onto me.
I promise to dance with him
next time and he winches a smile.


Lauren Camp is the author of two volumes of poetry, most recently The Dailiness, winner of the National Federation of Press Women 2014 Poetry Book Prize and a World Literature Today “Editor’s Pick.” Her third book, One Hundred Hungers, was selected by David Wojahn for the Dorset Prize, and is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. She won The Más Tequila Review Margaret Randall Poetry Prize and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Linebreak, Redivider, The Laurel Review, Nimrod and other journals. She hosts “Audio Saucepan,” a global music/poetry program on Santa Fe Public Radio. www.laurencamp.com.